With stopgap funding from various federal programs set to run out, the human services sector is looking ahead to a painful fall.
Surveys taken by United Way of Central Ohio and Human Service Chamber of Franklin County in March, April and May revealed the depths of the pain felt by local nonprofits amid the coronavirus crisis. More than $8 million in fundraising dollars had already been lost due to canceled events as of March 24, says Michael Wilkos, senior vice president of community impact for United Way.
That’s a number that has no doubt grown much higher since late March. While local generosity has been wonderful, “that $8 million is more than the combined amount of the Columbus Foundation and the United Way’s emergency coronavirus funds,” says Michael Corey, executive director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County. That’s on top of the revenue nonprofits have lost from having to shut their business enterprises. “So there’s a massive hole that this has created,” he says.
The sector is expecting to see a huge increase in need starting in September, when federal stimulus money, unemployment compensation, Paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act funds run out.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate could hover above 10 percent for awhile, and 1,300 evictions are set to make their way through Franklin County courts this month. People are calling it “a tsunami of need,” Wilkos says.
The federal Paycheck Protection Program has been one piece of not-bad news for the sector: 79 percent of the 89 organizations surveyed applied for the funds, and 86 percent of those who applied received funds, Wilkos says.
Is there going to be a movement at the federal level to continue benefits for nonprofits? “That’s the question,” Corey says. “I sure hope so. But I am not confident.
“If the federal government doesn’t step up, then the immediate consequence is services dwindle at a time when they’re needed more than they have been in a very, very long time,” Corey says.
The United Way/Human Service Chamber survey drew a high response—89 organizations representing 13,576 employees and 972 programs at the beginning of March.
Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO.